• Bright Future for Old Bricks

    With a new EU-certification, recycled bricks now face an even brighter future in the construction industry. At Henning Larsen, we have used recycled brick for facades in 5 of our latest Danish projects. The environmental, micro climatic and aesthetic advantages are considerable.

  • At Henning Larsen, we have successfully designed recycled brick facades in 5 of our latest large-scale projects in Denmark; the residential projects Sandkajen in Nordhavn, Jacobsen Hus in Carlsbergbyen, The Pollux-building on Islands Brygge, designed for PensionDanmark, the student housing Nimbusparken on Frederiksberg as well as in the prize-winning school Frederiksbjerg Skole in Aarhus awarded the Danish ‘Best School Project of the Year’- award in 2016.

    In the next few months, it will become possible to label recycled brick with the EU-approved CE- conformity marking. The Danish Environmental Protection Agency assesses that recycled brick now faces an even brighter future in the market because of the enhanced level of trust that the new certification will prompt. The CE-certification guarantees strength and bearing capacity and assures that the brick will last for another 80 to 100 years.

    “We have used recycled brick in our projects for a while now and are exceedingly satisfied with the considerable qualities this material bring to the projects. We can ensure a glow and a variation in the facades that is outstanding. We are very pleased with the new certification that surely will lead to a more widespread use. Building with recycled brick, we create an architecture where one instinctively senses the history of a place while the bricks simultaneously get to contribute to the architecture of the future,” says Peer Teglgaard Jeppesen, architect, and partner at Henning Larsen.

    Peer Teglgaard was the responsible partner for the award-winning Frederiksbjerg School. In this project, the bricks stem from the old hospital in Aarhus built in the 1880s and from Sct. Annasgade School from the 1953s, torn down to make room for the new school. This is a fruitful circular approach, which also has widespread environmental and microclimatic consequences.

    Future Solutions

    “Denmark has joined the Paris climate accord. This entails that we need to reach a 40 % reduction in CO2 emissions compared to 1990 levels before the year 2030. As architects, we have a huge responsibility. It is paramount that we contribute to climate change solutions. At Henning Larsen, we carefully evaluate our materials e.g. through the application of life cycle assessments. This way we can map the environmental impact of the materials relating to harvesting, production, use and waste disposal. Comparing new brick with recycled we see a remarkable difference in CO2 emissions and in energy consumption,” says Martha Lewis, architect and material specialist at Henning Larsen.

    Martha Lewis has conducted life cycle assessments for all of the Henning Larsen projects that make use of recycled brick.

    The comparison between new and recycled brick is based on activities in the production phases, as defined in the EU standard for sustainability of construction works, EN15804. For recycled bricks, this includes harvesting the historic bricks from the original building, transport to the cleaning factory, the rinsing process at the factory, and the transport and disposal of waste.

    The total sum of CO2 emitted in these processes is 2.7 kg for one ton of brick compared with 258 kg of CO2 emissions for one ton of new brick. The production phase of new bricks includes procurement of all raw materials, products, transport, and energy used in production, packaging, internal transport, and waste disposal.

    New bricks emit 95 times more CO2 during the production phase compared to recycled brick and consume 13 times as much energy.

    “This difference in environmental impact is, of course, a significant factor when we decide to make use of recycled brick. On another note, we work with the bricks micro climatically. For the façade of the Sandkajen project in Nordhavn, Copenhagen, we have placed the lighter stones high up allowing them to reflect daylight sending it down to street level. Simultaneously we have placed the darker stones on the lower façade close to street level. Placed here, they absorb heat making it more pleasant to stay in the outdoor areas,” says Peer Teglgaard Jeppesen.

    Henning Larsen plans to use old brick in several upcoming projects, also internationally in Belgium, Poland, and Ireland.

    Martha Lewis’ article on the reduction of CO2 emissions with recycled brick facades in Henning Larsen’s projects can be read here.

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